Student Leaders Summoned to CRES

Students in front of 11th Infantry Regiment after being summoned (picture from UDD on Facebook)

On Saturday I was alerted to a tweet by a former colleague of mine and at the same time to an article by New Manadala, saying that...

(...) นายอนุธีร์ เดชเทวพร เลขาธิการสหพันธ์นิสิตนักศึกษาแห่งประเทศไทย (สนนท.) และเพื่อนนักศึกษา ได้รับหมายเรียกจากศูนย์อำนวยการแก้ไขสถานการณ์ฉุกเฉิน (ศอฉ.) ให้ไปรายงานตัวที่กรมทหารราบที่ 11 รักษาพระองค์ (ราบ 11) ในวันอาิทิตย์ที่ 2 พฤษภาคม เวลา 10.00 น.
ทั้งนี้ ในเว็บไซต์เฟซบุ๊ค (...) ได้มีการเชิญชวนให้เดินทางไปให้กำลังใจเพื่อนนักศึกษา (...) เนื่องจากเกรงว่าอาจสุ่มเสี่ยงต่อการใช้อำนาจไม่เป็นธรรม หากสังคมมิได้จับตามอง เพราะตามพระราชกำหนดการบริหารราชการในสถานการณ์ฉุกเฉินได้ให้อำนาจเต็มที่แก่เจ้าหน้าที่ทหาร

(...) Mr. Anuthee Dejthewaporn, Secretary-General of the Students Federation of Thailand (SFT), and two other students have been summoned to the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) at 11th Infrantry Regiment on Sunday, May 2 at 10.00h.

On Facebook there were calls and posts urging people to go to the 11th Inf. Reg. to show their support for the students. (...) [They are] worried about a potential misuse of power that the people might miss, because the CRES is giving full powers to the military.

"ศอฉ. เรียก เลขาฯ สนนท. รายงานตัว 10 โมงเช้า วันนี้ (2 พ.ค.)", Prachatai, May 2, 2010

The summons were hand-delivered by a group of 6 policemen and also "They also took her photo and some photos of her apartment." Prachatai then reports today that...

The students were met by Lt Col Wiboon Sricharoensukying, Deputy Commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion. They were denied the right to bring in their lawyers to hear the interrogation, and were told not to worry as it was just for talks with police and there was no need for lawyers.

Over 50 people gathered in front of the 11th Infantry HQ to give moral support to the three students.

When they came out at about 4 pm, the students were met with over 20 supporters remaining.

"Students not allowed lawyers when interrogated by CRES", Prachatai, May 3, 2010

The question is what have they actually done to be summoned and interrogated by the CRES?

First there was (supposed to be) a statement by the SFT from March 16, 2010, in which they showed their sympathy with the red shirt protesters, so far I have not found it on a neutral platform (the SFT doesn't seem to have an own website), just on the UDD's Facebook page, but it can also be read here.

Secondly, this incident might also have caught the attention by some.

กลุ่มสมาพันธ์นิสิตนักศึกษาแห่งประเทศไทย (สนนท.) และกลุ่ม "ประชาธิปไตยก้าวหน้า" ได้จำลองเหตุการณ์วันที่ 10 เม.ย.ที่ทหารใช้ปืนยิงประชาชน บริเวณหน้าห้างสรรพสินค้าสยามพารากอน เพื่อให้รัฐบาลยุติการฆ่าประชาชน หรือยุติการใช้ความรุนแรงทุกรูปแบบ ที่อาจจะเกิดขึ้นซ้ำสอง พร้อมกันนี้ยังได้เรียกร้องให้รัฐบาลยกเลิกการประกาศใช้พ.ร.ก.ฉุกเฉิน และศอฉ.โดยทันที

The Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) and the Group for Democracy Progress have reenacted the violent clashes of April 10, where soldiers have fired on citizens, at the Siam Paragon Department Store, calling the government to stop killing or using any kind of force against the people in a possible second escalation of violence. They have also called the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation to dissolve the state of emergency immediately.

"สนนท.จำลองเหตุการณ์ 10 เม.ย. ร้องรัฐยุติการใช้ความรุนแรง", Thai Rath, April 18, 2010 [Note: The article is behind a paywall]

Also, Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a professor at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Thammasat University, has written in a Thai forum what (might) has happen with the students at the CRES. He also has written his account in English in the comments at New Mandala.

in the end, there’re 3 students summonded yesterday, the Students Federation’s secretary, a female 4th year student of Faculty of Letters, Chula and a male student at a vocational school. (...) They entered (...) around 11 am and came out only about 4-5 p.m. The reason of so many hours was there were so many people summoned including motorcycle riders, hire caravan operators, etc.

While there are certain ‘rationale’ for summoning the Students Federation secretary, the other two that were summoned are definitely the result of very bad government intelligence! The female student was accused of belonging to the Red Siam group, she’s NEVER was. (In fact, hardly anyone who’s still in the country can belong to this group!). The other male student was accused of being leader of a group called ‘Seri Panyachon’ (Free Intellectuals), he isn’t either!

There were 3 ’rounds’ of interview that everyone summoned had to pass through, including these three students. Altogether all the interviews lasted about one-and a half to two hours. The first round was the police interview. It’s the same kind of interrogation anyone would face if going to or is called to any police station. There were questions and answered, typed into official interrogation form (as in any police station). Then there was a kind of ‘talk’, in which military intelligence personals would ‘chat’ about the political situation, the views of those summoned. The atmosphere this round was ‘informal’ and a bit ‘relaxed’. There’s no typing into official form, but there appeared to be tape recording, and one of the two officers present, would take some notes. Finally, there was a kind of ‘psychological advice’ to those summoned. The person conducted this round of interview appeared to be a ‘psychologist’ (female นักจิตวิทยา). She would ‘lecture’ those summoned on ‘correct’ political, social attitudes, etc.

Comment by Somsak Jeamteerasakul on "Student leaders summoned" at New Mandala, May 3, 2010

This is both very dubious and very concerning. While I do get the idea to interrogate motorbikers, caravan hirers and any other person that might be linked to the logistics of the red shirt protests, I don't get why they would interrogate students other than to intimidate them for expressing some opinions that the CRES probably does not agree on. And what would that psychologist lady 'lecture' the interrogated? Behave, do as we say or you might have to come back again...?

The Student Federation of Thailand played an important historical role of political involvement several times in the past. Be sure to read this blog post by Bangkok Pundit from last year.

h/t to @isAMare